This article will be of interest to couples that are being treated with IVF or have had multiple IVF failures.
Every fertility doctor has heard this at one time or another. During an embryo transfer, the patient will ask, “Can you put some glue in their so the embryo will stick?”
Despite the numerous advances that have been made in human in vitro fertilization, several as yet undetermined factors appear to contribute to embryo implantation.
In an attempt to optimize the growth conditions of embryos in the laboratory, a number of different additives have been investigated. Commonly, embryologists will add proteins the culture media to provide a source of energy for embryo development and also to act as a “reservoir” for various necessary vitamins and minerals. The most commonly used protein used is called albumin. Unfortunately, albumin extracted from human serum is not a very stable substance. There can be much variability from batch to batch. Synthetic albumin, produced from recombinant DNA technology may be more stable but is very expensive and difficult to produce.
Another potential additive is a sugar called hyaluronan or hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronan is found in abundance in various parts of the female reproductive tract and is known to have some function in various parts of the reproductive process. Hyaluronan works by attaching itself to receptors on the surface of various cells including pre-implantation embryos and cells of the uterine lining.
Some recent studies have suggested that along with recombinant human albumin, hyaluronan can significantly improve embryo development and implantation.
A New IVF Study
Recently, a study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility to examine whether using hyaluronan and recombinant albumin would be more effective than albumin derived from human blood alone. Couples undergoing IVF were divided into two groups. Group 1 included 402 patients. this group used as its embryo transfer media a commercial product known as EmbryoGlue. EmbryoGlue contains recombinant human albumin and a high concentration of hyaluronan. Group 2 included 425 patients. The medium used was another commercially available product known as G2. G2 contains natural albumin derived from human blood and a lower concentration of hyaluronan.
Results of the IVF study
In group 1 the pregnancy rate was 23.1%, and in group 2 the pregnancy rate was 24.7%. In other words, there was no difference in the chances for success between the two embryos. Analysis by the type of IVF cycle, embryo quality, female age or the day the embryos were transferred still failed to show any difference between the two groups.
Conclusion: No Benefit to EmbryoGlue during IVF
The results of this study demonstrate no particular advantage or disadvantage to the use of high concentration hyaluronan products like EmbryoGlue. These results are in agreement with those of an earlier study, which also compared the effects of EmbryoGlue with another type of media. In fact, the only study that has shown a benefit to the use of EmbryoGlue was performed by the same scientists who produce and profit from this commercial product. At this point, use of EmbryoGlue does not seem to confer any advantages or disadvantages compared to the use of other types of IVF media.